How to Make Working Remotely Work for You

How to Make Working Remotely Work for You

The pandemic has made working remotely a necessity for many people, and it comes with both enjoyable benefits and challenges to conquer. Each person’s experience is unique and it’s up ultimately to you to really build the remote foundation you need for success. Brittany Leverett, an Alumni Success Manager at Flockjay, recently discussed some WFH tips with a panel of Flockjay employees and alumni:  

  • Dunetka Cussi, Success Advisor at Flockjay
  • Toby Ukandu, Account Executive at Stripe and Senior Sales Trainer at Flockjay
  • Nagieb Musaid, Admissions Advisor at Flockjay and Former Tech Fellow at Flockjay
  • Elise Cox, Customer Success Advisor at Gusto and Former Tech Fellow at Flockjay

We shared Brittany’s top 5 remote work tips first and now it’s time to hear from the rest of the panel. From nailing your WFH routine to unplugging from work to 5 fun work activities to help get you through the pandemic, here’s what they had to say. 

On Nailing Your WFH Routine

When COVID-19 shut down virtually every office across the country, millions of daily routines and workflows were turned on their heads. No more morning commutes. No more lunch with the team. And worst of all, no more happy hour. 

Fortunately, most of us have been working remotely for over a year now, so we’ve been able to develop a solid WFH routine. However, there’s always room for improvement, especially since we’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future. 

One of the ways Nagieb Musaid has honed his work routine is by creating his own commute. Prior to the pandemic, his commute was almost three hours long, which allowed him to hone his skills through music, podcasts, and audiobooks. But after a few months of working from home, he started to really miss his commute. So he decided to put matters into his own hands. 

“I started doing a little 10-minute commute, where I squeeze in two to three songs,” says Nagieb. “I try to be quick, but that’s like my meditation. That’s how I try to cool off and just get back to being me again.” 

Another way Nagieb keeps his day running smoothly is by testing his equipment and making sure it works correctly. In his own words, you don’t want to get caught slipping. 

“You don’t want your camera or audio to be messed up,” says Nagieb. “Also, consider upgrading your internet. If you need to do it, it’s worth it. Think of it as a work expense and, if you can, try to negotiate that into your pay as well.”

For Toby Ukandu, adjusting to the shift to remote work cropped up an even tougher challenge: Starting a new job. Toby joined Stripe in the middle of the pandemic and had to connect with his entire team through Zoom, which he found difficult since most of his team had already developed relationships with each other in person. But Toby didn’t give up on forging meaningful bonds through Zoom. He just pivoted his focus to making a few, deep connections rather than a lot of shallow ones. 

“I’ve been trying to find a few people throughout the company that I can develop a real connection with instead of just spreading myself wide and trying to talk to as many people as possible,” says Toby. “I do think it’s important to get out of your network and talk to different people in different departments, but you could spread yourself a little bit too thin doing that.”

If you’re like Toby, you also might feel like you need to hit the ground running at your new company. But he actually recommends doing the opposite, especially when you work remotely. 

“I think starting off working from home, you felt like you had to fill in the space with anything, even though they weren’t necessarily valuable,” says Toby. “Instead, just do less and focus on what’s actually valuable. And honestly, I’m taking advantage of that to spend time with my family as much as I can. So be sure to take advantage of that benefit too.” 

Elise Cox also echoes Toby’s sentiment on doing less when you work remotely. 

“When we come into a position, we want to outperform. Everybody’s like, ‘What’s the top person doing? I’m going to beat them’, says Toby. “But working from home, it can get overwhelming. So see how the second or third or fourth person is doing and just stay around there for a while, otherwise it can get overwhelming. Just stay in the middle, chill a little bit, get used to what you’re doing, and just manage what’s happening. Once you get your bearings, then you can be like, ‘All right, I’m coming for the top dog now.” 

On Unplugging from Work

When you work in the same place that you live, it’s easy to let your professional life bleed into your personal life. You not only have less to do in your free time but you also literally can’t leave your work. So how do you avoid tipping the scales of your work-life balance?

According to Elise Cox, who balances her career while being a loving mother and grandmother, setting a hard stop time for work every day is one of the most effective ways to maintain your work-life balance. If you have little ones in your life too, Elise suggests sitting them down for a clear conversation to express which hours you will routinely be unavailable to them and why. Then, when work is over – walk out the virtual door and stick to it! 

“I actually have a red end of the day, where I block my calendar for the last hour and a half of the day, just in case someone tries to throw something in there. But when that time comes up, I slam my laptop down. Like I’m done. I have to walk away. It’s honestly a great feeling. ” says Elise. “You have to be protective of your personal time because it’s so easy for it to bleed over. And don’t forget to turn those Slack notifications off.”

Nagieb Musaid also sets a hard stop time to end his day. But to make sure that he actually sticks to it, he makes an appointment at the gym so he literally has to leave his house.  

“I started going to the gym at the time that I want to stop at,” says Nagieb. “It gives me a reason to get out of my office, get out of my room, and actually do something else, which is good for my mental and physical health.”

If you’re struggling to find time for yourself within your busy schedule, check out the Reclaim calendar assistant for help with improving flexibility. 

5 Fun Work Activities to Help Get You Through the Pandemic

Work obviously has a professional nature, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, especially when we’re cooped up in the house all day. 

Here are some fun activities that our panelists do to get through the day at home. 

1. Get Goofy at Work 

“I love my onesies, and I love giraffes, so every Wednesday, I will put on my giraffe onesie and let folks know if you want me to turn on my camera, they’re going to see me with my hood on. And it just lightens the mood. And then if you are doing Zoom, they have a whole bunch of beta testing where you can put on mustaches and all kinds of other things. So we’ll have meetings where I walk in and  have a mustache and a beard on, and it’s just because, ‘Hey, why not?’” – Elise Cox 🦒 

2. Cook New Meals 

“One thing that I love to do between work is trying new recipes. It brings me a lot of joy. I just like cooking food that’s nutritious and delicious. I take care of myself and my family that way. That’s something that I love to do while working at home. It allows me to be more creative.” -Dunetka Cussi

3. Meditate at the Beginning of the Day

“Before I start my day, I do a little ten to 15-minute meditation to get that Zen and sharpen my mind. I’ve seen an improvement in my focus over the last two to three weeks. I’m still a newbie, but I’ve seen an improvement in my concentration during interviews and on the phone. I’ve even been doing it on my own and just feel like it’s helped me out so much. It’s night and day.” – Nagieb Musaid

If you’re unfamiliar with meditation or simply haven’t gotten around to giving it a try – now is the time! Check out Meditation 101 and try the Headspace app, it’s great for beginners. 

4. Get Your Smells Right 

“I’m all about my candles. I’ve tried a whole bunch of different kinds of candles. I gotta make sure my smells are right. I light a candle upstairs, downstairs, really everywhere in the morning.” – Toby Ukandu 🕯️

5. Develop a Morning Routine 

“I have this really intense morning routine. And if I don’t do it, I feel like everything breaks, and I just need to go back and try again. But I get up, I work out, and I make my breakfast and eat it in my workout room. And then I’ll listen to something positive or a random book in the shower. And then I can start work. But all of those things have to be done. I can’t break from any part of the process, but that’s become my hour and some change before I can come and talk to everybody.” – Brittany Leverett 

Make Working Remotely Work for You 

Today, right now, is a great time to start putting some of these tips to good use. What works for one person may not work for another, so it’s important to be patient and stay curious as you lay the foundation for your most productive remote work environment.

If you are seeking more opportunities to learn and work remotely, consider learning more about Flockjay’s 10-week tech sales training program and applying. We’ll help you launch a new career in tech sales, even without prior experience or a college degree. And with the state of remote work, many of the opportunities you’ll be applying for after graduation will have immense remote flexibility. Look into it and please let us know if you have any questions!

Your New Career in Tech Sales Starts Now

Sales is the best kept secret in tech, and Flockjay will show you the way. With online classes and live instructors, Flockjay teaches you everything you need to know to be job ready in just 10 weeks. Ready for a career change?

5 Remote Work Tips to Boost Happiness and Productivity

5 Remote Work Tips to Boost Happiness and Productivity

 We’ve officially been working from home for a year now, but there’s always still room to grow, especially since we’ll be working remotely for the foreseeable future. 

Fortunately, Brittany Leverett, an Alumni Success Manager at Flockjay, recently moderated a Lunch & Learn about working from home with a panel of Flockjay employees and alumni: 

  • Dunetka Cussi, Success Advisor at Flockjay
  • Toby Ukandu, Account Executive at Stripe and Senior Sales Trainer at Flockjay
  • Nagieb Musaid, Admissions Advisor at Flockjay and Former Tech Fellow at Flockjay
  • Elise Cox, Customer Success Advisor at Gusto and Former Tech Fellow at Flockjay

Here are five quick remote work tips that Brittany shared that can not only boost your happiness during the day but also your productivity. After that, read more remote work tips from the full panel here.

1. Take regular breaks throughout the day

When you work from home, it’s easy to just sit at your desk and keep plugging and chugging away at your work. Obviously, you’ll take breaks to get water, eat, and go to the restroom. But those aren’t enough to sustain your energy and focus throughout the day. 

“There are a lot of different types of breaks that you can take to better care for your mental and physical health while you work, like playing with your pets, taking them on a walk, or hanging out with your kids,” says Brittany. “Watching an episode of your favorite show during your lunch break is even a great way to recharge.” 

2. Have your favorite snacks ready at your disposal

“No one likes working with hangry people, and you’re bound to get hungry throughout the day,” says Brittany. “So consider buying snacks that you can quickly pull out in-between meetings or during your breaks.” 

Snacking is also a great way to keep your tank full and avoid stuffing yourself during lunch, which can lead to the dreaded food coma and, in turn, an afternoon lull.

3. Do walking one-on-ones

Switching things up not only freshens your day but it can also skyrocket your creativity. That’s why skipping the traditional Zoom meeting at your desk for a walking one-on-one meeting on your phone is one of the best things you can do when you work from home.  

“Walking one-on-ones also allow you to explore your surroundings or run some errands at home, all while connecting with your colleagues,” says Brittany. “This is especially beneficial when your work or personal life has gotten a bit overwhelming.”

4. Set alarms to remind you to take breaks and stop working

Sometimes, you need an alarm to remind you to get up and stretch, go walk the dog, get outside, drink water, or whatever you need to do to take a break.  Additionally, you might need another alarm to remind you to stop working. 

“We’ve all had nights where we worked until 9:00 pm, especially during the pandemic,” says Brittany. “But it’s definitely healthier to set a cut-off time so you can respect your time and your work-life balance.” 

5. Connect with coworkers 

Working from home can get a little bit lonely sometimes. It can get even worse when you’re new to a company and don’t really know how to connect with your new colleagues remotely.

A few ways to start socializing at work are to schedule bi-weekly lunch breaks with co-workers and attending company events.  At Flockjay, we have a different team host our weekly happy hour, which is called Friday Wine Downs. We also have a bunch of different identity groups that meet on a consistent basis.

“Odds are, your company hosts events and has identity groups, so don’t be afraid to join them,” says Brittany. “It might seem a little intimidating at first, especially if you’re new to the company, but everyone will likely be super welcoming and excited to have you there.”

Stay Productive While Working from Home 

We might be at the beginning of the end of COVID-19, but WFH is here to stay. Be sure to reference this blog if you’re ever struggling with remote work. We hope these tips can help you boost your happiness and productivity! Hear from the full panel when you read How to Make Working Remotely Work for You

Your New Career in Tech Sales Starts Now

Sales is the best kept secret in tech, and Flockjay will show you the way. With online classes and live instructors, Flockjay teaches you everything you need to know to be job ready in just 10 weeks. Ready for a career change?

From Number Crunching to Tech Sales with Pedro Morfin

From Number Crunching to Tech Sales with Pedro Morfin

Pedro Morfin, a former Tech Fellow at Flockjay and a current SDR at Gusto, an HR platform for small businesses, recently sat down with us for an Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) interview. As someone who successfully pivoted from finance to tech sales, we talked about everything from Pedro’s Flockjay experience to his day-to-day at Gusto. Plus, he shared parting words of advice for wherever you are on your journey to tech sales. 

Read on to see what this alumni had to say. (more…)

Is Your Employee Lifecycle Equitable? Recap

Is Your Employee Lifecycle Equitable? Recap

“Equity is the acknowledgment that we have a history of unfairness in the United States and society as a whole,” says Hakemia Jackson, the moderator of our latest webinar with ThinkHuman and 15Five

“In many ways, reparation is needed to even that playing field. But when will we get to the point where we can simply say that we’re all on a level playing field? That’s when we can all bring equality into the equation.

However, we’re nowhere near that. And so at this moment, we have to engage in a conversation about equity. And until these systems of oppression are completely dismantled, we cannot have a conversation about equality because it doesn’t exist.”

Equity is not just a trendy topic that has caught fire in recent years. It’s a mainstay in the people operations field because it’s crucial for creating fair, safe workspaces that give everyone equal access to upward mobility. 

Last week, we partnered with ThinkHuman and 15Five to host a webinar with five of the brightest minds in people operations, Francesca Walker, Jennie Yang, Kavita Vora, Shaan Hathiramani, and Hakemia Jackson to discuss employee lifecycle equitability. 

Read on to learn about the key takeaways from the webinar. 

What Is an Equitable Employee Lifecycle and Why Is it Crucial for the Modern Workforce?

An equitable employee lifecycle is a framework for creating as much fairness and inclusion as possible in a corporate workforce. Equitable employee lifecycles create psychological safety for their employees, especially ones from marginalized groups, so they can be their authentic selves to work without fear of judgement or punishment. 

Equitable employee lifecycles also create a more fair and objective system for career development, which gives employees the hope and optimism that they can excel in their careers, regardless of their background. 

Make Sure You Stay Aligned With Your Values

After you design an equitable employee lifecycle for your company, you need to ensure that you actually practice what you preach. And according to Francesca Walker, the Assistant Director of Student Experience at New York University, one of the best ways to stay aligned with your values is to make sure that you don’t recreate the trauma that your employees have experienced at past workplaces. 

“If my team is comfortable sharing the ways that they might have experienced harm in other organizations, then I need to ask how can I ensure that I am not reproducing that harm. I think that there’s two things to that. One, it acknowledges that harm has and continues to be done. And two, there’s a commitment to action.”

She went on to say, “Of course, that’s not to say that I’m not going to make mistakes. I’m human. But what we’re doing there is we are opening the conversation to get feedback from the people that we are supporting and constantly holding ourselves accountable to what we say we value. And that puts you in a place of being proactive rather than reactive to what may potentially happen down the line.”

For Jennie Yang, the Vice President of People & Culture at 15Five, setting the tone that you want to hear everyone’s voice at each meeting is also an effective way to stay aligned with your values. It creates a safe space. 

“As a leader, I cultivate psychological safety on my teams at the beginning of our meetings, especially if it’s a brainstorming meeting or a post-mortem. This sets the intention that I want to hear everyone’s voices. I want to hear your opinion, your experience, and create an inclusive environment.”

Jenny added, “Because as we all know, there are going to be colleagues who are louder than others. So I think it’s also a matter of saying, ‘Hey, I want to hear from you’, but not necessarily doing it in a way that calls someone out for not talking. It’s more of an invitation than anything.”

To Hakemia Jackson, asking your employees who identify with marginalized groups about how you can help them reflect and heal the wounds that social injustice has inflicted on them is another way to stay aligned with your values. 

“I know that a lot of institutions, especially higher education institutions, had calls for employees to take a day off to reflect, heal, and deal with the challenges of what’s going on in our society right now. The challenge there is when you have employees who are already overworked, even the idea of taking a day off to heal actually feels unattainable.”

So in this particular moment, Hakemia suggested that what we should be doing is looking to our colleagues who identify with the Asian-American community and, “Ask them, ‘What can I take off of your plate right? And yes, you can actually have this time to heal.’ Those are the kinds of questions that we want to be asking from a place of genuinity so we can embody our values.”

How to Get the Majority to Commit to Equitable Employee Lifecycles

At first glance, it might seem like getting the majority to commit to equitable employee lifecycles might be a tall order. But according to Kavita Vora, the former Chief People Officer at Splice, Jopwell, and MakerBot, creating a safe space for them to discuss diversity and inclusion can clear a path towards greater understanding. 

“The majority needs psychological safety too. That’s why it’s important to create a space where we can provide them with feedback on how they are doing along the continuum of understanding cultural mindsets and how they can progress further along that continuum. Something that we did in my last company is ask the board and the executive team to take a self-assessment called the IDI continuum, where you can assess how you view yourself and people who are different from you.”

Through that, Kavita revealed, “We were able to see where we are and where we think we are. And newsflash, everyone thought they were further along than they actually were, including me. So we all learned that we have work to do and have blind spots and areas to focus on.”

In addition to creating a safe space to talk about diversity and inclusion, Hakemia Jackson recommends being human and realizing that everyone makes mistakes and is capable of change. This not only helps you bring the majority guard’s down but also makes them more receptive to your diversity and inclusion efforts. 

“You have to understand that mistakes and missteps happen and you’re not at a point of no return when it happens. You can repair harm. I don’t think that people hear this enough. You actually have the ability to repair harm that you’ve done.” 

3 Actions Organizations Take Right Now

In order to create as much equity as possible in the workforce, there are three actions that organizations can make today: Invest in coaching, add a bias checker to the compensation and promotion process, and fully commit to employee equitability. Here are three final actionable takeaways from this panel: 

Coaching

“Get coaching. If you need to tap into third-party organizations, do it. Whatever you do, you have to make sure that you’re committed to equitability and viewing it as a value add instead of a cost on your balance sheet.” –Hakemia Jackson

Bias Checkers

“Add a bias checker to the compensation and promotion process. That’s a big trend I’m seeing. So whether it’s somebody at your company or a neutral third party that trains managers on different types of bias, you need to have somebody who can call out bias if they think they are seeing it. It’ll make a huge difference in the compensation and promotion process and make employees feel that it’s more transparent and fair.” – Kavita Vora

Full Commitment 

“There are no half measures in this type of work. If your company supports initiatives that make you feel like you’re comfortable bringing your authentic self to work, but you do a sales call and your manager tells you to speak with more polish or professionalism, then that dissonance means that no matter how many resources that you’ve poured into employee equitability, there’s still more work to do.”

Shaan went on to suggest that:

“Viewing this work as a value as opposed to something that needs to be optimized and can hit a number will help many folks realize that they are part of a system that has centuries of compounding privilege in the workplace. This is full court press kind of work. Because even if there is a hint of that dissonance I mentioned above, then all the energy put into your initiatives is for not.” – Shaan Hathiramani, CEO of Flockjay

Want to learn more? To further digest this valuable information, watch the full webinar.

 

Partner with Flockjay to Diversify & Strengthen Your Team

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8 Tips on Building Diversity in Tech Through Sales Roles

8 Tips on Building Diversity in Tech Through Sales Roles

“We believe diversity and equity matter everywhere, not just for ourselves but in the companies we work for, lead, and invest in.” —Shaan Hatharamani, Flockjay Founder & CEO

Sales roles have the power to catapult coachable folks into a life-changing, lasting career in tech. We know this at Flockjay because our diverse graduates have proven it to us. Traits like grit, curiosity, and a growth mindset can be some of the greatest indicators of success for sales candidates. None of those things have to do with a fancy piece of paper or pile of college debt.

Sales is an onramp with limitless potential for anyone who wants to build a career in our industry, regardless of a lack of “traditional” experience. So, why does this onramp seem so hidden? Why are there so many secret rules baked into breaking in the tech industry?

To explore questions like this and discuss effective solutions, we gathered the following tech leaders and hosted a panel discussion on Building Diversity Through Sales Roles

Each of our panelists brought incredible heart and perspectives to this energizing discussion. It’s time to rethink our approach to recruiting and referrals, reassess diversity data, and focus on attributes like coachability to get the right candidates in the door. It won’t be easy, but it’s vital to increase the accessibility of sales roles and strengthen the future of our global industry. 

As Ebony put it, “Have the courage to make suggestions, push back, have tough discussions, and really become comfortable being uncomfortable.” 

The panel made one thing clear: Driving the needle forward on building diversity is going to take all of us, and it starts today with these actionable tips.

Miss this discussion in real-time? Watch here.

1. Hiring Managers Need to Take on More Responsibility 

In the words of Kelly, Head of Sales Training at Flockjay, who excels at keeping it real:

“Hiring managers need to take on more responsibility. We are quickly coming to a time when, if you’re a hiring manager and you don’t have a pretty diverse team, that is not going to be a great look for you.” 

If your team isn’t diverse, pointing the finger at your recruiting team isn’t going to fix the problem. Dishing out blame isn’t effective. All stakeholders have to work together to build diversity that lasts and allows your business to operate more effectively. If you’re a hiring manager growing your sales team and focusing on DEI, lean into discomfort. Make it your responsibility to become and act as a partner with the recruiting team.

Frederik, Co-founder at BLCK VC, said:

“In the hiring process, you should feel uncomfortable. Because if you don’t feel uncomfortable, that means you’re falling back onto what you’ve done already, the things you’ve been anchoring to. And this has to feel different. You should have a pit in your stomach. Lean into that discomfort, that is okay. That is how we drive change.”

2. Understand That Your Customers are Increasingly Diverse 

This might feel like a no-brainer, but it’s an important takeaway. Because your customers are diverse. You’re competing in a global market. Diverse sales teams can better support a diverse customer base.

After all, sales teams are the front lines with your customers and represent the face of your company. What face do you want to show the world? What will your increasingly diverse customers see? Hire wisely when growing your sales team. In Kelly’s words: 

“The reality of it is most of us are building products for a diverse set of consumers, and so how do you expect to build and sell and do all the things necessary to be successful without inviting in all these different perspectives to the conversation?”

Our founder Shaan echoed this:

“It’s not just about providing pathways into sales organizations. It is rooting future leaders at companies, so that, when you’re making decisions with your technology that impacts millions of users, you have a different perspective in the room that actually can move the needle and create a better economic outcome.”

He added, “Sales teams are the front lines with your customers, that’s where you’re getting the feedback loop on your product and what you’re building. If you aren’t reflecting that diversity of customer base that’s growing with your sales team, then you have lost the most fundamental opportunity to improve what you’re doing as a product.”

3. Expand Beyond the Traditional Employee Referral Cycle

Take a moment to stop and think about your current sourcing process. If you operate like most companies, your sourcing process is largely made up of employee referrals. And, when it comes to who our employees refer, it’s largely people from their network – which tends to be largely homogenous. Put simply, employee referrals disproportionately benefit white men.

Jacob, Founding Member at LatinxVC and Partner at Shasta Ventures, mentioned that while familiar tech recruiting processes can be effective, they’re “absolutely a double-edged sword.” Why? Because, well, you’ll get more of the same.

Jacob said, “As companies grow past the founding group, we need to be opening up networks drastically, and part of that is structure.”

Unsure where to begin? You’re not alone. We all have to start somewhere. At Flockjay, we don’t want our referral program to be the enemy of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Because of this, we openly share this important data to consider with all referring employees prior to submitting:

  • Referral programs disproportionately benefited white men ⮕ white women were 12% less likely to receive a referral, men of color were 26% less likely and women of color were 35% less likely
  • Referrals from a close friend/family member were most common, but had lowest level of engagement outcomes
  • Targeted referrals (such as cold messaging someone at target company) were least common, but had highest level of engagement outcomes

At Flockjay, as we look to grow our team, we know that our networks are an important source of referrals. But we also know we need to look beyond our networks. And, the data shows that when we do, we see high levels of engagement with these candidates.

Jacob added a proactive example of expanding beyond your traditional network: discouraging warm intros. In his own experience he has found that “When everyone fills out the same standardized information and it’s sent and filtered through recruiters who are external to the first round, they can bring together the best candidates for that role from a larger pool.” 

For recruiters and hiring managers looking to balance out the employee referral cycle, restructure incentives to minimize systemic bias. Consider throwing out traditional network-based hiring processes and replacing them with employee referral programs that lead to a diverse slate of candidates. Encourage your employees to engage with your job postings and share them with underserved groups and networks.

Want to diversify your sales talent pool with elite SDRs? Hire with Flockjay

Fun Fact: When an employee referral joins our team at Flockjay and hits their 90-day anniversary, the first reward the referring employee receives is a $250 donation Flockjay will make in their name to a non-profit organization of their choice. To me, that carries more impact, because it reinforces company alignment to our mission and speaks to our greater purpose.

4. Drop Secret Barriers to Entry with Increased Transparency 

As the old adage goes, “Secrets, secrets, are no fun, secrets, secrets, hurt someone!” And in this case, the “secret rules” that have long been implied in tech hiring are actually hurting your company, in addition to the candidates you’re leaving out.

Kelly, our Head of Sales Training, brought up a couple common “secret rules,” like only considering candidates with 1-page resumes and active LinkedIn profiles. Many companies employ these secret rules without really questioning why, but Kelly urges you to start assessing your own barriers for hires today.

As we move forward, the onus to break these barriers down does not fall on one team, it requires collective acknowledgment. It is the companies’ responsibility to demystify the process and make sales more accessible, and it starts with removing barriers to entry for candidates.

5. Align Attributes with Sales Success (a College Degree Doesn’t = Grit)

Piggybacking off the last tip, one of the most critical barriers that need to be reassessed is requiring a college degree for an entry-level sales role. In reality, a fancy degree doesn’t actually tell you much about a person’s ability to find success in a sales role, but it does tell you they had access to opportunities.

So really think about it, hiring managers: What skills are you looking for that you’re using a 4-year degree as a proxy for? Reevaluate requirements to focus on attributes. 

Sales is teachable, and traditionally diverse candidates do well in sales because they possess several of the inherent skills and attributes that align with that success. Hire based on traits we know are predictors for being a top sales rep: grit, hustle, strong communication, tenacity, emotional intelligence (EQ), perseverance, curiosity, optimism, gratitude, and self-control.

Jacob nodded to the importance of grit and brought up an excellent point about some of the best CROs he knows being immigrants. He said:

“They [immigrants] have found tremendous success in leveraging the multi-faceted skillset that it takes to be an outsider in the United States in order to build social connections, networks, and be able to exert influence to an outcome. And it’s a tremendously difficult, high EQ skill that I think a lot of people don’t even notice for people that aren’t from the U.S., or look different than what we think a person from the U.S. looks like.”

The most impactful thing you can do is hire diverse coachable individuals with a growth mindset. There are so many diverse candidates who have the potential to excel in sales roles but don’t even realize it yet due to misconceptions about the profession. None of this can happen without aligning stakeholders on hiring from the top down. It’s our job to push management teams to lean in more aggressively and understand it will take all of us to effect changes.

Ebony said:

“I encourage everyone to take an honest inventory of all of our blind spots and be flexible enough to be willing to try new solutions. Have that courage to make suggestions, to push back, have tough discussions, and really become comfortable being uncomfortable.”

6. Build Support Systems from Within to Retain Diverse Sales Hires 

Building lasting diversity in tech doesn’t stop with the hiring process. If you’re looking around the room at a sales team with a diversity of talents, backgrounds, and ethnicities, that’s one piece of the puzzle. But if you want those people to stay with your company and reduce common turnover, building support systems from within to nurture lasting inclusion is essential. Sales is a highly consultative role focused on supporting and guiding customers. And without support, sales can be a lonely place. Ebony said:

“Sales is like a game of tag, even though you’re on a team of people who are supposed to be friendly, it’s still a competition. And this can make people feel even more lonely sometimes in their roles.”

So how can we start improving the support we provide today? Kelly said:

“People think it’s so much more complex than it is, but check on your team. A ‘hey how are you doing? or’ I know you’re part of this community that was really affected by police brutality, are you ok?’ or ‘Can I support you right now?’ goes a long way. Asking questions, being human, getting more resources behind them, and connecting folks with mentors on your team are all places where you can start.”

She added, “A big part of the reason we started Flockjay is we know that diverse candidates need support to be successful in tech in the long term. If you try to go at it alone, you will not be successful. I know from my own experience.” 

Ebony, CEO at Salesforce Foundation and Chief Philanthropy Officer at Salesforce, said:

“We have to start programs and support organizations within our own companies that will give people the access to social capital, give them the skills, give them the networks and experiences. If you’re not able to do that within your company, companies like Flockjay that have programs where people can go and get those networks are so vitally important.”

At Flockjay, we have built support systems from within in a few different ways. Our students begin fostering a sense of community from day one. Our Alumni Network focuses on providing additional support to Tech Fellows going through the stressful and exciting hiring process.

We have established various Flockjay Identity Groups (FIGs) with internal leaders and students that serve as a place for different groups to connect. And, we check in our team (their whole selves).

6. Evaluate Diversity Data as You Would a NPS Score 

Transparency around where you are now and where you’re going matters. Ebony said, “I wish there was a way to have a metric on bulk inclusion – like a Net Promoter Score, for example – that your team could rate you on anonymously so that we as executives in our companies could really assess who is doing well with this, not just for the team that looks the most diverse, but is also feeling included.”

A Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a tool that, “measures customer experience and predicts business growth. This proven metric transformed the business world and now provides the core measurement for customer experience management programs.”

It is a simple way to get a pulse on how your business is doing, which is why NPS is so widely accepted as a metric in our industry. We’re at a point where it’s time to start evaluating your diversity data in a similar, routined way. Normalize collecting, analyzing, and sharing your diversity data in a fully transparent way. Analyze your attrition/promotion rates. 

Kelly said:

“Did all of the ‘diverse’ people on your team leave after 6 months? Were you able to actually hire, retain, support, and promote diverse candidates? That would be something that’s interesting to know.”

Look for opportunities to improve DEI within your findings. Then, improve. Don’t shy away from the findings that reveal you have more work to do. Ebony said, “Companies always talk about where they’re succeeding, rarely do you hear companies be really transparent about where they failed. I think it’s important and it’s something we’ve started implementing in our reviews.”

When Ebony sends notes around to her executive leadership team, she says she includes a win in addition to some opportunities for improvement. She wants her team to share the lessons they’ve learned and evaluate the aha moments they’ve had. She said, “If we start opening ourselves up publicly around this, it’ll be okay for companies to struggle, but they can get ideas for how to move forward.” 

Ebony said:

“Companies need to know that, not only are your current and future employees going to demand it [diversity], but it also is going to show up in your customer base. Customers are going to be looking at you, at your leadership board, your executive leadership team, at your data and numbers around diversity, and they’re going to make a business decision whether they want to be working with you or not.”

8. Consider Top Level Sponsorship vs Mentorship

Mentorship is an incredible tool, but Frederik says that layering on mentors to help new sales hires tactically understand how to be successful in the role can only go so far. Enter: sponsors.

Frederik said:

“Sales is this front door into an organization and it’s not just a pathway up a sales ladder. I think if we can really move toward getting more senior managers to be sponsors to those folks that are coming into the organization, that’ll help.”

Sponsorship extends beyond mentorship by acknowledging that entry-level sales hires are at the beginning of a journey, and being transparent with those people right away about all of the pathways they could go within the organization.

Sponsors are true advocates who want to make opportunities clear beyond being promoted from an SDR to an AE. They can do so much to provide a mirror for new hires that lets them see what opportunities around the corner look like.

Shaan said that “From my experience in running Flockjay, the most successful sales orgs are the ones where there is a high level of sponsorship for investing in support and the continuous reskilling and upskilling of your sales team.”

Partner with Flockjay to Start Building Diversity through Sales Roles

If you missed the panel in real-time, you can watch the recording on-demand here for more tips. This work matters. At Flockjay, we’re passionate about helping people from historically excluded backgrounds break into tech sales, where they can seize opportunities to grow professionally and personally. We’re also passionate about shaking up the tech industry, for the better.

frederik groce on diversity flockjay webinar quote

As Frederik put it, “Diversity isn’t just about doing the right thing because it feels good, it’s about building organizations that can perform and operate more effectively.”

Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments, and email partners@flockjay.com if your sales team is growing and you would like to connect with elite SDRs.

Partner with Flockjay to Diversify & Strengthen Your Team

Flockjay reps already love to sell. They are trained by the best, onboard faster, perform better, and stay longer. Interested in diversifying your sales team with pre-trained talent?

3 Lessons on Managing a Diverse Remote Sales Team

3 Lessons on Managing a Diverse Remote Sales Team

The last six months have been humbling as a sales manager. Overnight, I transitioned from being a 100% IRL manager to being 100% remote. Initially, I was overly confident, thinking how hard can this really be!? Got this in the bag. 🏆  But I quickly realized that managing a team of remote salespeople presented some unique challenges. 

Managing sales teams remotely is different than managing any other team for a few reasons:

  1. Sales reps hold extra stress from carrying quota (especially in a volatile market)
  2. Sales reps no longer have the opportunity for real-time social learning
  3. Sales reps miss the motivation of friendly competition

As a sales professional in this new remote world, I realized that I needed to invest in learning how to manage a diverse, measured, social team if I wanted to maintain a high performing team. 

These are some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. If we make it a point to do a better job of understanding and supporting each other within a remote framework, our teams have the freedom to get better, grow stronger, and thrive onward. Not to mention, reduce attrition and decrease ramp time, which helps us hit our numbers. 

At Flockjay, we connect top tech companies with diverse, pre-trained sales reps. (more…)